The Large SUV segment shrank by 3% year-on-year, by far the worst performance of all non-premium SUV segments. It is important to keep in mind, however, that this trend is partly explained by the way this segment is defined – as really large SUVs with body-on-frame construction. And it is the fact that customers are gradually turning away from these rather uncouth underpinnings towards altogether more comfortable monocoque-based cars that will explain the decline of this segment, although many of the Midsize SUVs are, in fact, as big on the outside (and often bigger inside) than those in the Large SUV segment.
The market leader remains, by a long shot, the GM quartet of Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and GMC Yukon/Yukon XL, which are basically short/long wheelbase versions of the same car, while the differentiation between the Chevrolet and GMC is limited to exterior styling (mostly the plastic bits and lights – the metal pressings are all the same). Between them the four models account for almost 75% of the market, and, unsurprisingly, their 4% year-on-year fall in sales pretty much drives the market’s decline.
Following the GM quartet in terms of sales is the Ford Expedition, a car so ancient its main construction dates back to 1997! While successive facelifts have kept it in the race, there is no denying the fact that Ford seems to have totally relinquished this segment to its GM competitors, which outsell the blue oval almost 5-to-1.
In this segment the Japanese competitors come a long way after the homegrown models, with Nissan Armada selling a bit better than the Toyota Sequoia, even though the former is the older of the two, having been introduced in 2004 compared to 2008 for the Toyota. In fact, the Armada is the only model whose sales grew by double-digits, a pretty remarkable performance given the car’s age. Still, the fact that neither of the Japanese models can sell as much as a tenth of the GM quartet exemplifies just how hard it’s been for them to crack this segment. The sales chart is closed off by the Toyota Land Cruiser, which sells in small numbers and is positioned as a semi-premium offering in the US.